The Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has today (Tuesday March 31) written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to express the region’s overwhelming support for the Government’s economic aid package while calling on him to plug remaining gaps.
The Mayor praised the Chancellor’s swift action in putting in place measures to help the West Midlands economy but said some self-employed people and medium-sized businesses had found themselves unable to access support.
And he said that when further guidance was issued to the construction industry, he hoped that health sector projects like the Midland Metropolitan Hospital could be prioritised.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street has called on the Chancellor to plug gaps in the coronavirus economic support package
The Mayor said there was an understandable hunger to see the committed funds flowing through and the region was doing all it could locally for that to happen by taking a wide range of actions including help for local authorities to process rebates.
That work is being supported by the region’s Economic Impact Group which has been set up to ease the effects of coronavirus on the regional economy and begin planning for its recovery.
But the Mayor highlighted two specific groups where he said there remained a gap in financial support:
* Medium-sized West Midlands businesses with a turnover in excess of £45 million but without access to the commercial paper market which is used by larger corporations to obtain funds to meet short-term debt
* Some self-employed people who fall outside the current criteria for support, in particular traders who pay themselves through dividends
Commenting on the Chancellor’s support packages, as well as the remaining gaps, Mayor Andy Street said: “The Government has moved quickly and decisively to provide wide-ranging support to companies across the West Midlands, and I want to thank the Chancellor for listening to the needs of businesses.
“The economic impact of the Coronavirus will be severe, but it should not be too long lasting, and therefore the Government’s substantial support packages should help bridge the gap and allow businesses to stay afloat and keep workers employed.
“However not only do we need this promised cash to start flowing through fully, but there are also some final gaps that need to be plugged by the Treasury.
“Since the support packages were announced I have had several self-employed workers and medium-sized businesses make contact with me to say they fall between gaps in the Government’s support. I have today written to the Chancellor to highlight these gaps, and I am sure he will move swiftly to have them addressed.”
The Economic Impact Group has been holding a weekly, virtual meeting since early March and is due to meet again this Thursday (April 2) when it is expected to discuss the latest analysis into the effect of the Coronavirus outbreak on the regional economy.
The Group is also expected to be presented with the latest data on the flow of Government financial support to companies.